Ecolabel program highlights the benefits of winter wheat in Canada
A new eco-label program launched earlier this week seeks to put winter wheat at the forefront of sustainability conversations.
Ducks Unlimited Canada, Cereals Canada and Prairie Wheat Winter Growers have teamed up for the Habitat-Friendly Winter Wheat Ecolabel Program.
“This is the first eco-label of its kind that demonstrates winter wheat is a duck-friendly or habitat-friendly crop on the Canadian prairies,” said Karli Reimer, Communications and Marketing Manager for Agricultural Sustainability at Ducks Unlimited Canada.
Winter wheat grows well
Unlike other crops, winter wheat is sown in September. It grows throughout the fall and uses moisture from the snow. When spring arrives, the soil does not need to be disturbed for seeding, creating a place for birds that migrate north to nest.
Reimer said Ducks Unlimited Canada has done extensive research on winter wheat. In the 1970s, they discovered that northern pintail populations were in decline due to habitat loss. They are one of the many birds that roam the prairies each spring in search of a place to nest.
“Our research actually shows that ducks that nest in winter wheat are 24 times more productive than those that nest in a spring zone grain crop,” she said.
The new program also benefits farmers. Gary Stanford operates a farm near Magrath, Alberta. and is also a delegate to the Alberta Wheat Commission.
Winter wheat runs deep in his blood, having cultivated it for over 40 years. He has championed its sustainability for years, adding that it improves the quality of his land by preventing soil erosion from high winds and increasing organic matter for future rotations.
Southern Alberta farm promotes local, sustainable agriculture
“I’ve been trying to work on this, on winter wheat, for 20 years and finally see a program come to fruition – it’s very exciting,” Stanford said.
“That’s a lot of nesting areas for waterfowl and upland game birds.
“It is a place for them to nest in the spring without disturbing the ground.”
Cereals Canada Director of Market Access and Trade Policy Daniel Ramage said consumers have become more aware of what they are buying when shopping.
Having an eco-label on a product makes it easy for people to shop when looking to make more sustainable choices.
“This is what we are really proud of,” he said. “Through this program, we have created an opportunity that is truly a win-win. “
Les Moulins de Soulanges, a specialty flour mill in Quebec, and Beam Suntory in Alberta are the first two processors to become a certified eco-label partner. Ramage added that more will be announced soon, as the program was only launched recently.
“So when a consumer goes to a grocery store to buy something made from winter wheat, they see this eco-label and can be sure that it has been grown responsibly and that it is a eco-friendly option. habitat, ”Reimer added.
More information on the Habitat-Friendly Winter Wheat Ecolabel program can be found on their website by clicking here.
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